Dr Maria Cardenas sitting in a treatment room in the dental clinic in Wellesley and talking to a patient who is sitting in the dental chair.

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what is periodontitis? and how to prevent it

We all know how important it is to take care of our teeth. But good oral hygiene doesn’t stop at just brushing twice a day. Our gums need to be taken care of just as much as the teeth that they protect. Healthy gums prevent harmful bacteria from reaching the roots of our teeth. If bacteria is able to get beneath our teeth, it can cause tissue damage, which if left untreated can eventually lead to tooth loss, pregnancy complications and an increased risk for heart problems and diabetes.

What is Periodontitis?

Periodontitis (often referred to as gum disease) is the inflammation of the tissue around the teeth, often causing shrinkage of the gums and loosening of the teeth. This inflammation is the body’s response to fighting off bacteria caused by a buildup of plaque. This bacteria is found in the mouth naturally but if it is not properly controlled with good dental hygiene it can cause problems. Although poor oral hygiene is the main cause of periodontitis, other factors include hormonal changes, illness, medications, smoking and genetics.

Is periodontitis the same as gingivitis?

You've probably heard of gingivitis, as most people develop this condition at some time in their lives. Gingivitis is also inflammation of the gums but it is not as severe as periodontitis and can easily be reversed. Although the gums may be irritated during this stage, no tissue damage has occurred. The symptoms are mild but it is important not to ignore them as periodontitis can develop from untreated gingivitis.

Symptoms

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms or you are concerned about the overall health of your gums, we recommend scheduling a comprehensive periodontal evaluation.

  • Gums that are red, swollen or sensitive
  • Bleeding after brushing or flossing
  • Receding gum-lines
  • Having loose teeth
  • Pus between teeth and gums
  • Mouth sores
  • Bite changes or new spaces between teeth
  • Constant bad breath

Prevention

Periodontitis is treatable but it's much easier to prevent. Generally, keeping up with good oral hygiene is enough to keep your gums healthy. This means brushing your teeth at least twice a day and maintaining a healthy diet. If caught early, periodontal disease can be reversed, which is why it is also important to have routine dental cleanings at least twice a year. If your last visit was more than six months ago, give us a call at 781-235-1900 or click the button below to request an appointment online.

 

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